Rising to fame with iconic band Australian Crawl, James Reyne’s music captures the zeitgeist of 1980s Australia: in amongst the decadent guitar solos and thriving drumbeats you can almost taste the testosterone. Reyne’s latest release, the appropriately titled All The Hits Live, was fittingly recorded in Perth, one of the country’s most unapologetically patriotic cities. It’s a powerful recording which emphasise’s Reyne’s sheer talent not only as a vocalist, but as an entertainer.
The album is expertly arranged, with a clear sense of rise and fall throughout. Opening with the scorching Daughters of the Northern Coast, the more fiery, distortion-heavy tracks are balanced by gentler selections such as Sweet Love and Always the Way, and even the piano ballad Hoochie Gucci Fiorucci Mama provides a powerful moment of solace. Works from Reyne’s solo career are the solid rock and roll foundation of the album, but it’s the songs by Australian Crawl which are the most engaging, especially the album’s well-considered closer, the classic crowd pleaser The Boys Light Up.
At times his banter with the audience veers into self-indulgence, as in the end of Hammerhead, which sees more than a minute of Reyne’s spiel to the audience. “I saw Andy Williams… sell a song, in a non-ironic way. People don’t know how to do that anymore, ladies and gentlemen,” he says. But clearly, Reyne does know how to sell songs in a non-ironic way. This record is underscored by a constant sense of authenticity, by the feeling that Reyne truly does believe in his music. His total conviction translates straight from the arena to recording, with his energy and passion as evident through speakers as in the flesh.